Design and Work Packages

The project will be organised in two project parts. Each focuses on the circular economy from a different angle and has distinct objectives and work packages (WPs).


Part A - Discourses & Governance of the Circular Economy


This project part will identify and compare alternative visions, strategies and policy scenarios connected to the setup of a circular economy across political, civil society, and industry actors. The project part will apply an actor-centered approach to discourse analysis (Discursive Agency Approach), which places a particular emphasis on the role of actors in the creation of discourses at different levels. Finally, policy formulation and implementation processes at different levels will be studied for select industry sectors. To do so, the researchers will carry out expert interviews, network analysis, document analysis, and participant observation. To grasp the different levels of governance, this project part has three distinct work packages, with WP 1 studying discourses and governance frameworks on the international and the European level, WP 2 investigating discourses related to a circular economy across different sectors in Germany, and WP 3 researching the history of related discourses across different sectors of another country (likely the USA, this is going to be decided in the first stage of the project).



Part B - Conceptualizing Global Supply Chains & Material Flows in a Circular Economy


This project part will analyze and assess transformations in existing value chains based on agriculture and forest-based products. WP 1 will advance our understanding of transformation processes in global supply chains of forest and agriculture-based products related to a circular economy. In particular, opportunities and constraints to the re-organization of supply chains for a circular economy will be investigated. This task will involve case study research (e.g. on supply chains developing around food waste or paper board) and potentially quantitative assessments of industry sectors. Based on this, synergies and trade-offs between different sustainability objectives (economic, environmental, and social) along existing and potential future chains will be assessed. WP 2 will complement this research by designing and modelling sustainability indicators to compare transition paths in a circular economy. Based on comparative analyses of environmental performance of selected case studies in Germany and another country (likely the USA), WP2 will model global environmental impacts of potential alternative production activities. Both work packages will use a variety of different methods, including, for instance, interviews, consequential life cycle assessment or a Delphi Study. The results will be aligned with political science knowledge on societal discourses and governance initiatives for a circular economy (generated in project part A).